A national exhibition center must be built by 2021, Aliaksandr Lukashenka announced the mission at a meeting on 14 May 14, the President’s press service reports.
"Any country needs such an exhibition center. It is impossible to promote trade without exhibitions and fairs in the modern world,” the Belarus president said.
The government has picked a construction site near the shopping and entertainment centre Expobel not far from the Kurapaty memorial, the site of Stalin-era mass executions.
The other options suggested included the intersection of Minsk Beltway and Brest Highway in the Malinauka neighborhood of Minsk. However, the suggestions were rejected because the construction ‘could affect people living in the area,’ the President’s press service reports.
The project of an exhibition center near Kurapaty appeared in 2012, head of the Monument Protection Association Anton Astapovich told Radio Liberty. It is expected that the center will be built outside the protected memorial area. However, Lukashenka can abolish the protected area by his edict when necessary, Astapovich added.
Several dozen thousands people are believed to have been executed by Stalin's secret police in the late 1930s in the Kurapaty forest next to the Minsk Beltway.
In early April, Belarusian authorities started 'putting Kurapaty in order' by having demolished the crosses installed there by activists. Lukashenka confirmed on TV later that it was done on his direct orders.